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Deconstruction of Retreat Center facade and 1904 sections begins on April 20

After delays in the morning, deconstruction crews began with two excavators on the afternoon of April 20, 2023, taking down much of a 1963 corner addition, parts of the 1996-97 facade, and beginning to tear down the 1904 addition to the original Mount Saint Joseph Academy.

Interest in the deconstruction project has sparked many comments, including by some who questioned why the building had to be removed. The original bricks at the center of the building were made in 1874, and were deteriorating, making the building very unstable and unsafe. RBS Design Group, the architects for the project, posted on its Facebook page, “Due to the unfortunate extreme financial expenses to make the facility useful and suitable, a solution other than demolition could not be found. Although the buildings may be demolished, the bricks crushed and hauled away, the love shared and the memories generated at Mount Saint Joe will live on forever! The amount of history and sentimental value this special place holds in the St. Joe community, as well as in the entire Catholic diocese is unmatched!”

Deconstruction is expected to continue on April 21, with the rubble beginning to be hauled to the landfill the week of April 24. Several of the original “miracle bricks” have been preserved and are available for a donation of $25. This will explain how to secure a brick for posterity. 

Video of the deconstruction on April 20

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